The following is a reflection on Hebrews 5:5-10, the Epistle Lesson for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, according to the Revised Standard Lectionary. Hebrews 5:1-10 is the Epistle Lesson for Proper 24B.
Abram had been told by God to pick up from his land—the only home he had ever known—and go to a new place.You can’t possibly imagine how big this is unless you’ve ever been among people who are rooted to their land through many generations. This was a big ask. In return, God said he would bless him and make him the father of many nations.
After settling by the Oaks at Mamre he was still childless. So much for “father of nations.” He was in some significant struggles with his nephew, Lot. And, subsequently he found himself in the middle of a grand war.
A war among many kings.
If Abraham’s story stopped there, he would be a laughingstock. A sad laughingstock whose life had been completely turned upside-down by a God who had asked him to move, and who had promised him the world in return. And all he had to show for it was war, strife, and barrenness.
He won the war. And as the kings were settling the tab in comes a new figure. With a name that hadn’t been referenced before, and in the narrative of the Torah wouldn’t be referenced again. A figure that appears and then vanishes again with hardly a comment.